By Chris Adams

The rapid increase in obesity of the past few decades may have hit a plateau for some groups of children, although researchers are still trying to understand if this bit of good news is real or merely a short-term pause, according to a Mayo Clinic expert.

Dr. Seema Kumar, a pediatric endocrinologist at Mayo, led a group of National Press Foundation journalists through the science on childhood obesity and the data on its prevalence. Overall, she said:

  • 21 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds are obese
  • 18 percent of 6- to 11-years-olds are obese
  • Among children age 2 to 5 years, there was a decrease in obesity from 14 percent in 2003-2004 to about 8 percent in 2011-2012

Whether that will hold is uncertain. “More recent data appear to be good, but we have to wait and watch,” she said.

When Kumar  got into medicine and began treating children, there were certain adult diseases she didn’t have to worry about. Now, she sees diseases such as diabetes and sleep apnea in children.

“These are diseases of adults,” she said, adding that, “Our children are aging.”